After bringing Kenyon Martin back in the fold, the New York Knicks are going to have an exceptionally high level of continuity from their 2012-2013 roster. Basically, the top seven players from their rotation by the end of last season are returning. Jason Kidd and Chris Copeland are the only players who left that were consistent rotation players for the majority of the season. Keep in mind, the Knicks did win 54 games last season and that was with Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Ray Felton all missing over 10 games, along with Iman Shumpert missing half the season. Quickly writing them off as a distant fifth seed in the East who will be left in Brooklyn’s dust might be premature. Let’s compare this year’s Knicks presumptive roster to last year’s…
F – Carmelo Anthony – (67 games played, 28.7 PPG, 24.8 PER, FG% .449, 6.9 RPG, 2.6 APG) - Arguably Anthony’s best overall season as a pro, outside of missing fifteen games. There is no reason to assume his play will decline unless Mike Woodson plays him too much at small forward instead of power forward. Hopefully, he suits up for more games next season. Let’s call him a push for 2013-2014. PUSH
G/F – Iman Shumpert – (45 games played, 6.8 PPG, 11.7 PER, FG% .396, 3.0 RPG, 1.7 APG) - Shumpert missed the first half of the year, spent most of the other half getting back into rhythm and then hit his stride in the playoffs. The Knicks are banking on him taking a huge leap this year and considering his ability at both ends of the court, why not be optimistic? IMPROVE
G – JR Smith – (80 games played, 18.1 PPG, 17.7 PER, FG% .422, 5.3 RPG, 2.7 APG) - Well, JR is getting surgery so forgot the 80 games or him matching his career best levels of production from last year. The best hope is for him to hit his stride in the second half and for the playoff run. DECLINE
C – Tyson Chandler – (66 games played, 10.4 PPG, 18.9 PER, FG% .638, 10.7 RPG, .9 APG) - You’d like to hope Chandler will play in more games this season and if healthy, he should remain at a comparable level of production…but with those skinny legs, who knows? Let’s keep the optimism and call this a PUSH.
PG – Ray Felton – (68 games played, 13,9 PPG, 15.2 PER, FG% .427, 2.9 RPG, 5.5 APG) - A good season from Felton, who should be able to match this level of production in 2013-2014 while playing more games. PUSH.
PG – Pablo Prigioni – (78 games played, 3.5 PPG, 13.0 PER, FG% .396, 1.8 RPG, 3.0 APG) - Mas Pablo! He will be back and should have a larger role with Jason Kidd now gone, which is good since he was one of the team’s most efficient players last season, particularly down the stretch. IMPROVE.
F – Kenyon Martin – (18 games played, 7.2 PPG, 13.9 PER, FG% .602, 5.3 RPG, .4 APG) - Rounding out the Knicks top seven last year, they will now have Martin’s defense, rebounding and hustle for a full season. IMPROVE.
F – Amare Stoudemire – (29 games played, 14.2 PPG, 22.2 PER, FG% .577, 5.0 RPG, .4 APG) - Who ever knows with Stoudemire? Let’s call him a push and hope he can at least give the team 29 games this season. Maybe he gives them much more, but how can you count on him at this point? PUSH
On to the newcomers…
2013-2014: Ron Artest – Andrea Bargnani – Tim Hardaway Jr – CJ Leslie
2012-2013: Chris Copeland – Steve Novak – Marcus Camby – James White
Your next four players. Considering how little Novak, Camby and White contributed last year, it is hard not to see this as an improvement. Artest will bring needed wing defense, toughness and an ability to knock down the corner three. He wil fit in well at the 3 alongside Carmelo Anthony at the 4. Considering his talent, you would think at a minimum that Bargnani can match the production Copeland brought last year (56 games, 15 minutes per night, 8.7 points per game, 2.1 RPG). Hardaway Jr should get some run early in the season while JR Smith is recovering from his injury while Leslie should only be seeing garbage time minutes this year, like James White should have last year. IMPROVE
Oh, yeah. The Knicks still haven’t formally replaced Jason Kidd, as they need another backup point guard. Yes, we will see more Pablo but they still need another player. Whether it is Bobby Brown, Toure Murry or somebody else…this is a downgrade, even after how poorly Kidd played in the playoffs last season. DECLINE
On the whole, you’d be hard pressed to say the Knicks overall roster isn’t equally as good or slightly better than it was last year. The JR Smith injury hurts but it should be compensated by having Shumpert all season and hopefully having Anthony, Felton, Chandler and Stoudemire miss less time. Does that mean they will win 54 games? Not necessarily. The conference will be tougher as a whole but anything more than a max 4-5 game decline shouldn’t be expected.